The Carolina Hurricanes snapped out their scoring woes in a big way with four goals in the second period during an exciting 6-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at the PNC Arena. Eric Staal scored a hat trick and Jeff Skinner potted two goals for the home team.
After a scoreless, solidly played first period, the Canes took their first lead this season when Jeff Skinner roofed a backhander over Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth just one minute into the second period. The young winger found a loose puck at the side of the crease and surprised the goalie with the shot.
Asked after the game if his backhand has always been this good, Skinner said that the blade of his stick is not as curved as some players. "It's a good shot for me," he said.
The Canes had trouble staying out of the penalty box at times this game but ended up killing all six of their penalties. During one of those kills, defenseman Justin Faulk scored shorthanded on a three on one breakaway advantage. The goal made the score 2-0 just 4:06 into the period.
Faulk laughed after the game saying that he broke his stick on the shot, but he'll take the goal, his first of the season.
Down by two goals, the Sabres came back hard later in the period. Cody Hodgson would score 8:50 into the period and Jason Pominville tipped in a shot less than two minutes later to tie things up.
The Hurricanes were not finished though as Skinner scored his second of the game on a wrap around chance. Eric Staal then took a pass from Jamie McBain, who was making his debut appearance for the season, and took it inside to beat Enroth to make it 4-2.
It was Staal's first of the season and his goal was just 9 seconds after the Skinner tally.
Buffalo came out strong to start the third period and controlled play for a bit. Pominville would score his second of the game off of a beautiful, no look pass by Thomas Vanek.
With the score 4-3, the Canes fought back. Joni Pitkanen would make a pretty play of his own as he stole the puck inside the blueline and skated toward the back of the net. He found an open Eric Staal above the slot area and the captain ripped in a perfect wrister top shelf to make the score 5-3 with 10:34 left in the game.
Staal would then find the open net on a shot from almost center ice at the 18:32 mark to seal the deal.
During the post game presser, coach Muller said he was very pleased with the effort.
"We got some timely goals tonight and I thought we were at a quick pace, way quicker than the first two games. We capitalized a few times and got a push back from Buffalo but the guys stayed with the program we have been preaching and they just stayed with it."
After the interviews, both teams prepared to fly to Buffalo for the second game of their back-to-back match up on Friday night.
- The Hurricanes, who lead the league averaging 39 shots per game, outshot Buffalo 38-33. They put 21 shots on goal in that electric second period.
- Eric Staal had a team high 7 shots while Skinner had 5.
- The team had 27 hits led by Jay Harrison with 6.
- Joni Pitkanen and Jamie McBain each had a team high 4 blocked shots.
- McBain looked pretty solid his first game in and finished with an assist and a +2.
- Pitkanen was +4 and E. Staal was +3. Zac Dalpe, Jordan Staal, and Pitkanen each had two assists.
- Pitkanen also had a team high 4 takeaways.
- Jordan Staal won 65% of his faceoffs, Eric won 54% and Jussi Jokinin won 53%.